Let’s start a few weeks before Felicity was born. Most of the pregnancy I was measuring about 2 weeks ahead of actual gestational age. At about 35 weeks, I jumped from measuring 2 weeks ahead to 4 weeks ahead. The midwives recommended a growth scan to check size and fluid levels. The ultrasound at 36 weeks estimated the weight of baby to be 9 lbs, 8 oz. I had heard of many stories of people having very off measurements on ultrasound late in pregnancy, so I pretty much denied that the baby could possibly be that big. I mean Matt was 9 lbs, 15 oz at 37 weeks when he was born, but I still didn’t really think I would have that big of a baby. I was also more convinced that this baby was a boy. I had been having lots more pain and was totally exhausted, plus I had a UTI a few weeks before that landed me in the hospital. So I was pretty much thinking clearly this is a boy causing all this trouble. After the ultrasound the midwives said I needed to consult with the doctors since this was a big baby and I needed to know the risks of shoulder dystocia and whether to chose a c-section or not. I knew I didn’t want a c-section and since I had vaginally birthed three not small children I would likely be fine. I met with one of the doctors and before we even said anything she said you have birthed three good sized babies vaginally before I don’t see why you can’t birth this one. So yay!
The next few weeks were pretty much me laying around on the couch trying to rest and not over do it and end up in pain. I didn’t really gain any weight from about 32 weeks on, which was much different than my other pregnancies, during which I gained lots of weight towards the end. I was still eating plenty and really doing no exercise, so I guess the baby was just taking everything including any extra fat she could.
On Friday, May 30, we celebrated Greta’s birthday with Chinese food and frozen yogurt. After going to the bathroom at about 1:15 am on Saturday, May 31 (37 weeks, 6 days) I got back in bed and tried to fall back asleep. Then, GUSH! I went and woke Matt and said I’m pretty sure my water broke, I’m headed to the bathroom to confirm. Yep, definitely my water. Due to the speedy arrival of Eloise after my water broke, we decided we were heading to the hospital immediately, even though I had only had a one or two mild contractions. We went down and woke Matt’s mom, who thankfully was staying with us for two nights, to tell her we were leaving. After convincing her to go upstairs and sleep with Beatrice so that she would hear the girls if they woke up, we left.
On the way to the hospital I had a couple of contractions, but nothing painful or regular at all. I got to bypass triage and went straight to a labor and delivery room. The nurse and midwife came in and got all the paperwork and such out of the way. The midwife checked me and I was 4 cm dilated and 70% effaced. I got a hep-lock put in since I really didn’t want an IV unless I needed it.
For the next bunch of hours we did a variety of things, walked around the floor (stopping to chat with a friend who happened to be working that night), took a shower, got in the jacuzzi, took a nap, ate some breakfast, ate some lunch. A new midwife took over for the weekend first thing in the morning. She stopped by around 9 am to chat and to see how things were. Both the midwives were surprised I was still without a baby, since both the previous labors were relatively short from the time my water broke. But alas, I was still there, having irregular not very painful contractions. Walking seemed to make the contractions more regular and painful, but I was getting tired of walking and was afraid I would be out of energy by the time I really needed it if I kept walking and walking, especially after a night of little sleep. We knew that around 3 pm we were going to have another discussion with the midwife about how to get things moving.
By 1 pm, we were ready to have that discussion and see what options there were. The midwife came in around 1:15 pm and checked to see if any progress had been made. I was 5 cm, but she could feel my water bulging, so we opted to let her break it again and also strip my membranes. Let’s just say this was quite painful and not something I enjoyed one little bit. She thought that my water must have broken at the top and not at the bottom, so no progress was really being made. Pretty much immediately after she broke my water on the bottom, the contractions were painful and much closer together. This was the real deal now!
Prior to the second water breaking I didn’t have to be on the monitors, except to check in every once in a while. Once the contractions really started though they wanted to mostly monitor baby’s heart rate. I sat on the yoga ball for a while, breathing through contractions. Matt had to hold the baby’s heart rate monitor in place the whole time since the shape of my belly plus the position of the baby made it nearly impossible for it to stay in place. He was also rubbing my back. I like quiet when I’m in labor and I pretty much close my eyes and never open them unless required. 🙂 After a while I decide the ball is not cutting it anymore and get in the bed, sometimes sitting up, sometimes laying down. Shortly after getting into bed I start gagging on my phlegm, which is typical for me and pregnancy. But thanks to active labor, plus eating right before hand it turned into me throwing up all over. Fun stuff. I think I got up to go to the bathroom a time or two in here. I drank a lot of water throughout the whole day and so had to keep peeing, especially as the baby descended and put more and more pressure on my bladder. Pretty soon I’m miserable and ready to give up (apparently my favorite thing to say during labor is “I can’t do it, I want it to be over.”). Eventually the midwife checks me and says you are complete, ready to push. Good thing cause I was feeling ready to push whether she liked it or not. Once I was in the bed the nurse took over holding the heart rate monitor in place and Matt went to the other side of the bed. I’m pretty wimpy in labor at times and refuse to hold my own legs when it is time for pushing. So another nurse comes help (she was planning on coming in when I was going to be pushing anyways) and Matt and my regular nurse hold my legs.
So time to push. I can’t recall exactly how long I pushed, maybe 20-30 minutes? For the first time in labor I wasn’t screaming my head off and pushing actually helped dissipate the pain. While I was ready to push full force the midwife made me slow down so that I wouldn’t tear too much and so that hopefully this big baby wouldn’t get stuck coming out. After a few good pushes and a few gentle pushes her head came out. Then this lovely child of mine decided to spin around, first one way, then another (a full 180 degrees). I guess she was trying to figure out the path of least resistance. I yelled at the midwife to stop doing whatever torture she was doing, but she said that’s your baby. Another push and out she came (2:55 pm), all covered in vernix. Both the midwife and two nurses were very surprised at the size of the baby and Matt of course thinks she doesn’t look that big. I think we all forget how big babies are, but nurses and midwives see them all the time, so they are a much better judge than us lay folks. At first they were going to take her over and try to pink her up, but then they changed their minds and put her on my chest for a bit. Eventually I handed her over to Matt for the remainder of the delivery stuff because I’m always afraid of dropping the baby while pushing out the placenta and the stitching up. I ended up with just a first degree tear, which isn’t bad considering the size of this child. They did bring the scale in relatively fast to weigh her (10 pounds, 5 oz) since we knew they were likely going to need to monitor her blood sugar (big baby hospital deal).
During the actual laboring portion my midwife sat in the chair and observed for the most part. Both her and the nurse let me do my thing. When it came time to push the midwife shined. Seriously there is no way this would have gone as smoothly without her there. She told me exactly when I needed to push hard and when to stop and when to give a little push. She was calm and serious, which is what I needed. I definitely hit the jackpot with which midwife was on call and which nurse I was assigned. I loved them both and wouldn’t have done nearly as well without them there.
So while we were at the hospital for quite a while before she was born, I’m glad we were. Based on the fact that once my water was truly broken it was less than two hours until she was born, makes me happy we left the house when my water first broke. Something like 10% of labors begin with the waster breaking, but for me I’m at 75%, craziness. This was by far my most controlled and best birth from my perspective, even though there was lots of initial waiting. I’m happy with how things turned out and still surprised that I was able to birth a 10+ pound baby with no drugs and remain relatively calm throughout the labor. I’m also really glad she didn’t stay in much longer as I can’t imagine how much she would have weighed at 40+ weeks.